My aunt and uncle just loaned me an awesome book on Christian ceremonial blessings, called Bar Barakah, by Craig Hill. With the journey I am on it has really resonated with my spirit because I have longed for something to confirm me as a man. How does any boy or girl in our society know when they have passed that stage of childhood and are on the road to being an adult?
Craig Hill talks in his book about the need for a ceremonial blessing in a person's life, man or woman. He mentions people in their are many people in their 30's, 40's and even 50's that are still under their parents and not feeling like they truly are an adult. He says that at one conference he was at an older man piped up saying that that feeling doesn't go away in your eighties either.
Many societies have some sort of ritual, like the Jewish Bar Mitzvah. In "Healing the Masculine Soul" by Gordon Dalbey he talks about a polygamist African tribe that at the age of maturity calls the boy out of his mothers house and takes him away to learn about the history of his people, learn trades of being a man and fasting with prayer. When the boy comes back to the village he is no longer in his mothers house, his father builds him his own hut and gives him a plot of land to farm. And it isn't until he is well established in these things that he is allowed to see his mother again, at which point he is reintroduced to her as a man, lest she steals away his manhood with her mothering.
What does our society provide to initiate us into manhood? Well, a couple that Dalbey mentions are the ability to drive, buy cigarettes, go to the bar and buy pornographic material. He also mentions join the army and one I thought about was to ability to go to the casino and gamble. So what do these really communicate to those coming of age? Well a generality would be that adulthood means having the ability to do destructive things (other than driving but that would depend on how you drive).
For me it was driving, I longed for that day for years. In fact I started taking my Dad's truck out and driving on back streets and ally's when I was 13 and 14. I just couldn't wait. But like many other things in my life that I had expected to confirm my manhood, this too was empty and left me disappointed.
The Christian blessing ceremony called the Bar Barakah would be a major milestone in the life of the one who is blessed enough to have one. Craig Hill in the book compares it to a marriage ceremony, and ascribes as much importance. He asked those who are married, how do you know you are married? Most people were able to look back on their wedding day as how they knew. He asked if there was ever any doubt that you were ever "really" married and again there was no doubt because of the ceremony. That is the importance of ceremony. Imagine if you were able to look back on your life and remember your Bar Barakah, and know that this was the day you became a man. On this day your father imparted his blessing to you and declared before all your families friends and relatives "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased. Today my son, you are a man, before us and before God". After that day a child's life would be totally different, he would be granted new freedoms and be treated with a new respect.
I fully intend to do this with my son and study this more over the next while, as my son will be coming of age in the next 4 or 5 years. It excites me to think of how great it will be, and how he will have what I never had. He will never have to wonder when and if he really is a man.
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